How good is this blog
Examples of corporate blogs: How well are German companies doing?
While a number of companies are already successfully using corporate blogs, others continue to shy away from it. Dr. In this article, Kerstin Hoffmann explains what role blogs can play, what types and approaches there are, and above all she shows several good examples. This "best of" German corporate blogs does not claim to be complete.
Author's note: This article is based on a chapter from my book “Web or Die! Successful corporate communication in times of digital change ”.
You don't have to call a company's editorial platform a corporate blog. Nevertheless, it is helpful as a working term. Anyone who understands the principle of such a website, on which all current content converges, quickly sees why every company needs a content strategy these days.
While a number of companies have been running exemplary, well-maintained corporate blogs as the center of their content strategy and content marketing for years, others still do not dare to blog. Often one feared the effort that would result. A closer look also quickly shows that a change in communication almost always has consequences for the structures in the entire company.
But looking the other way is not a good idea: companies whose processes do not allow rapid digital exchange on their own pages and on the social web generally urgently need to think about their future viability. Working on a corporate blog can therefore also serve to put all communication on a contemporary basis. Good role models like the ones listed below can help blogging success.
What communication goals does a corporate blog achieve?
Corporate blogs can cover many different areas of responsibility. Here are some examples of how they contribute to the communication goals. Of course, not all points have to apply, and on the other hand there are others as well.
- Bringing activity to a previously static website
- Get attention
- increase popularity
- Build and improve reputation
- Activate multipliers
- Convince opinion leaders
- win customers
- Retaining customers
- Generate participants for events
- Maintain exchange and networks within the industry
- Accompany advertising campaigns
- Support marketing and sales
- Support press work
- Promote profiling as an employer
- Include existing employees in communication
Awareness is growing - but the implementation ...
Not all German and European companies have their own corporate blog. But there is a growing awareness of how important such a platform is for reputation as well as for generating sales. Nevertheless, it can still be stated that a large number of German and European companies have a lot of catching up to do in terms of content strategy and content marketing. A large number of German companies, even from digital-savvy industries, cannot have anything that could even come close to being a blog. Not all blogs achieve high quality equally. Many are orphaned after an ambitious start, or they are poorly connected to external presences. Or there are alibi platforms that are predominantly self-referential, which is why hardly anyone apart from those responsible for the company likes to read them.
The proportion of successful corporate blogs in the communications industry is naturally disproportionately high. It is also not surprising that the agencies and consultancies that also support their customers digitally are in the lead here again.
But even where people blog more or less diligently and think about reader benefits, the connection to social networks and network activities of individual protagonists of the company is often neglected.
Even studies on B2B blogs, such as the whitepaper “The blogs of German companies in the B2B environment”, surprisingly often only deal with this aspect in passing. They evaluate style, frequency and perhaps the reader benefit, but mostly don't give much thought to how the platform is integrated into the overall mix.
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It is still possible to become a pioneer!
It is not easy to find German examples of corporate blogs in the B2B area that are really good in all aspects; Especially not those that have been recorded in high quality over a longer period of time and also have the necessary interfaces to external platforms that are essential for their own reach. During my research, I found it astonishing that even really well-made blogs of large companies sometimes have deficits in detail, for example with regard to the share buttons. Many seem to be based on cheap standard solutions. Conversely, this also means that companies with such platforms in certain industries and segments still take on real pioneering functions and can thus take advantage of enormous opportunities.
Blogs can take on very different forms and thus also pursue different goals. The connection to the company website or a shop, for example, can be very close, or the blog functions as an independent offer. Many company blogs represent hybrid forms from different genres. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to assign them clearly. Here I have put together some typical shapes.
The Daimler blog was one of the first German corporate blogs. It was often cited as one of the prime examples and was always ahead in votes and award ceremonies. Hardly any other blog has been consistently present for so long. In doing so, it implemented a variant of the company blog that was very formative in the early days of this online form: a publication that primarily consists of employee contributions, namely employees from all areas.
In the meantime, if you look at the German corporate blogs, such a pure form is rather the exception. And Daimler itself has now turned around: the employee blog has now been turned into a professionally made online magazine, operated by a permanent editorial team.
In my opinion, this general difficulty with “pure blogs” has various causes. On the one hand, those responsible in many companies often had to learn painfully how difficult it can be to encourage the workforce to blog regularly. On the other hand, a corporate blog in this form contributes to the overall reputation of the company. Because it is ideal for employer branding and employee loyalty, it also provides outsiders with authentic insights into corporate practice. However, a pure employee blog in this form is not intended as a central platform in content marketing.
Whether the considerable effort for such a blog is worth it always depends on what a company wants to achieve or even has to achieve with it. In this context, the Daimler blog was a successful example of image work that goes far beyond pure product advertising and, in this context, also for employer branding.
The latter continues in the company's presences on the social web. The “Daimler Career” page can be found as an actively maintained Facebook fan page for the group. The Daimler AG corporate website on XING is also a prime example of the presentation of an employer brand on the web.
The high level of awareness of Daimler's online activities is certainly decisively influenced by the fact that blog maker Uwe Knaus is excellently networked in the digital scene, exchanges with other bloggers and uses social networks as well as real events for this.
This is striking proof that without protagonists who network with other people, it is very difficult to bring a platform forward. Without your own active participation in social networks, which goes beyond the offer of like and share buttons, it is not easy to create visibility and reach for your own blog. Unless there is a consumer brand behind the publication with a large audience, for example, that puts a lot of advertising and marketing effort into its own web presence.
Knowledge carrier blog
Giving away what you know in order to sell what you can: This formula is the basis for many blogs from large consulting companies as well as individual consultants or service providers. This is a part of content marketing. The goal here is clearly recognizable that competence from the core business should be proven. The articles then mostly take up topics and problems from consulting practice, or those topics that concern the customers. Often the author or authors report on events or refer to current developments. One example of such a blog is Capgemini Germany's IT trends blog.
When the CEO or the chairman of the board blogs, this is often used to personalize an otherwise rather abstract organization. It gives a company or even a large corporation a face. It sends certain signals to external stakeholders. But the internal effect on employee identification should not be underestimated if such a corporate blog is successful. It achieves reach above all if the protagonist in question demonstrates competence and presence in digital communication beyond blogging. The Edelman Trust Barometer already showed in 2012:
“For 82 percent of those surveyed, it is more likely or significantly more likely to trust a company whose management team speaks about their tasks, goals and values via social media. Not prepared by the new PR agency in the form of a mission statement on the intranet! In the form of a living paper, in the form of a blog post with an open comment function! "(Source)
Well-known examples of the blogs of CEOs of larger companies come from the Anglo-American region, such as that of the extremely media-savvy entrepreneur Richard Branson. The American CEO blog Marriot on the Move by the very elderly CEO of the hotel chain, Bill Marriot, is very successful.
Examples of blogs and social media presences from CEOs of larger companies, especially good ones, are so far rare in German-speaking countries. Hardly anything has developed here in recent years. A number of good approaches have since been discontinued or have been taken over by marketing.
As far as the networking of German company and corporate executives in other digital media is concerned, the situation looks much more desolate here. Often, literally, hardly anyone is willing to turn their heads. One of the few exceptions in Germany is Jörg Ehmer, who started blogging as CEO of ElectronicPartner, continued his blog "Ehmers Blog" as a personal opinion platform even after leaving the company and is now running it as CEO of Apollo Optik.
Service and topic blogs
In the case of consumer-related topics, such as food, travel or sports, it becomes much easier to find consistently carried out content marketing that focuses on an up-to-date, attractively designed blog. The Metro Genussblog proves that this can also be achieved with an in-house team, and a small one at that. Service for the reader in the form of useful content, such as recipes, is in the foreground. Image building is of course a very central function.
The Jack Wolfskin blog is even closer to the sales activities, from which the reader can directly access the categories of the online shop. Even here, however, the textual forms and static images still predominate.
The big consumer brands, on the other hand, could learn a lot from the baking sisters, the Juchem Food Ingredients range. It consists of a blog that, in addition to text - such as recipes - and photos, integrates multimedia forms such as videos, extends over several social networks and invites you to events in real life again and again. It comes as no surprise that Andrea Juchem, who has an excellent network, is once again a digital-savvy personality who also shows his face personally.
Content marketing, knowledge transfer, general image building and employer branding: some blogs are supposed to fulfill all of these tasks. One example of this is the NTT Data Blog, whose (self) description reflects the hybrid form. According to this, “an international team of authors from the company writes regularly on topics related to the consulting industry, current market developments, new trends and technologies or about work and everyday life at NTT Data”. As with Capgemini, the authors are specialists from the company who are active in consulting, but also members of the marketing team.
Sole proprietorship and consultant blogs
Wherever an outstanding protagonist proves to be a talented blogger and manages to transfer his network qualities from real life to the web, high-quality, well-connected content platforms are created that offer their recipients real benefits. Lecturers, trainers, coaches, lawyers, management consultants: Many of those whom I have already mentioned as examples or even interviewed in my book “Principle for free” - such as the lawyer Thomas Schwenke or the speaker and trainer Sabine Asgodom - have been well known since then further expanded. They are all so successful with it because they are aware of the importance of networking on different platforms as well as in close direct contact with other people.
The blogs can be assigned to various of the aforementioned forms, depending on the industry and orientation. They often have a lot in common with a CEO blog. Even more frequently, a knowledge carrier presents himself here with his technical and personal competence. The more the individual entrepreneur or the protagonist of a small company identifies with the company, the more personal the blog becomes.
Blogs cannot be an island
There is one thing that many blog makers who started out with ambition have now had to painfully learn: the content alone neither attracts readers nor does it drive up sales figures. Content platforms must not be islands in the social web, otherwise hardly anyone will find them.
So when it comes to the corporate blog, it's not about the platform itself, but about how well it works within the integrated communication strategy. But once you have understood that static or sporadically updated websites will make a company invisible in the medium term, you may approach a new strategy with the blog topic. Hopefully, the examples mentioned make it clear that this is possible in any sector and in companies of any size. Comprehensive content strategies also start with an initial impulse.
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We published this post in May 2015 and last updated it in November 2020.
This article belongs to: UPLOAD Magazine 22
The title topic “Well done” revolves around successful examples of mobile websites, storytelling, corporate blogs and social customer care. We also have articles on various current topics of the month.
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